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Sheriff Lee Baca and Los Angeles Police Chief Department Charlie Beck on Tuesday unveiled a database that links local, state and federal agencies in the fight against crime and focuses on communities, rather than criminals.
“This system has the capability to empower police agencies to effectively identify and assess problem areas, without regard to jurisdictional boundaries, just like crime,” said Baca.
The Community Based Information System combines information on crime, community demographics, social service referrals, school dynamics and other data relevant to law enforcement decision-making.
“The CBIS provides real time intelligence between local, state and federal agencies that will allow us to combat crime together,” said Special Agent in Charge John Torres of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Los Angeles Field Division.
“If this database can save one life, and I know it will, ATF will continue its collaboration with this project to ensure open lines of intelligence (are) being shared with all levels of law enforcement.”
Officials said the purpose of the database was not to track criminals or analyze crimes committed, like typical law enforcement technology, but to better understand the socioeconomic dynamics that underlie troubled neighborhoods.
Beck contrasted the active nature of the database with older, reactive technologies.
“The very nature of CBIS supports our goals to further develop and enhance LAPD’s predictive policing efforts, because it presents a comprehensive picture of the communities we serve, especially those troubled by violence and gang crime,” Beck said.
“The future of smarter, more effective policing means knowing where and when crime will happen.”
Steve Whitmore of the sheriff’s department offered an example.
“If (law enforcement) sees an area that’s beginning to grow into terms of crime … a specific kind of crime, like property crimes, that may be related to drugs … (officials can) start flooding the area, not only with police, but with social services,” Whitmore said.
Using the database, officers will also be able to provide immediate referrals to local resources for residents of the neighborhoods they police.
For example, patrol officers who encounter a homeless person who seems to be intoxicated will be able to offer information not only on nearby shelters, but also on rehab centers which work with the homeless or area hospitals that offer substance abuse programs for the uninsured, said Whitmore.
“We can provide the community with tangible solutions to their problems and create a cultural shift within law enforcement,” Baca said.
Whitmore said Baca is convinced that “you can’t arrest your way out of this problem” and believes intervention is critical to long-term success in combating crime.
Community advocates also applauded the new technology.
“CBIS is a breakthrough platform linking law enforcement with quality community data, moving law enforcement towards achieving the best of 21st century policing,” said Connie Rice, director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights and policy “action tank” striving for social justice.
The system will be housed in a single secure location and be accessible to all law enforcement agencies within Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to Baca.